Greg Parma Smith

Greg Parma Smith

On Painting
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Swiss-American artist Greg Parma Smith was born in 1983 in the state of Massachusetts. He lives and works in New York, where he studied fine arts, receiving an MFA from Columbia University in 2007.

Since then, Parma Smith has never stopped exploring the everyday visual world through oil painting. He gives himself total freedom to connect this traditional technique with various forms of assemblage, sometimes juxtaposing images, or letting a sheet of paper unglue, roll up or extend beyond the traditional limits of its medium.

In this play of superimposition and extension, several motifs appear simultaneously, like the different layers of a pad of paper or the random recollections of our visual memory. From still life to nude, from landscape to calligraphy or graffiti, his subjects explore all registers and borrow their characteristics from various crafts, subcultures or pictorial trends, as part of an admirable interest in mimetism.

Although his inspiration sources vary, his use of painting is itself consistent. Sometimes tinged with nostalgia, his work also revives all kinds of experimental practices developed in New York in the 1970s and 1980s, like the fanzine. The questions underlying his approach still concern the status of images in our society. They are constantly diverted and reinterpreted, gradually losing their initial meaning in order to acquire a multifarious significance.

Colored pencils, oranges, a pile of origami paper: Parma Smith mines the trivial to reproduce his reference-infused subjects. His clever gesture conveys a masterful ability to adapt to the style he is interpreting, but beyond the technical prowess of creating a copy or trompe l’oeil, Parma Smith brings a new perspective to these sources at once familiar and heterogeneous, incidentally recalling the appropriation of mass-culture images that contributed to the glory of Pop Art in the 1960s.

The artist’s work has already been shown at solo exhibitions in such institutions as the Swiss Institute in New York (2008), the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis in Missouri (CAM, 2010) and more recently in 2017 at the Musée d’art moderne et contemporain in Geneva (MAMCO).

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